Well, folks, we're here on the eve of America's greatest holiday: The Super Bowl. And with this holiday comes the third in the triumvirate of America's greatest holiday traditions, behind July's blowing up of explosive shit to celebrate that time 56 rich white guys signed a piece of paper and November's trampling of fellow human beings in order to save 20% on plastic crap nobody needs. That's right: The Super Bowl Party.
Many of us will be going to Super Bowl Parties, and many of our experiences will be quite different, depending on our level of football fandom. I, for one, don't really know much about the game beyond its basic construction described in the dictionary: I know that there are things called Special Teams and how downs work, but couldn't tell you the difference between a fullback and a cornerback to save my life. So I'll be enjoying the company of my friends, who will be shouting at their television wearing Seahawks jerseys and drunk off the success of a local team playing for their sport's highest honor. They will look across the room between empty beer bottles and see my Mariners hat, and they will ask me if I've given up on the Mariners yet, daring me to defend my interest in a Seattle team that couldn't appear any more different from the one in front of us on the LCD screen.
Now a lot of us are probably well versed in the ins-and-outs of football, and will be at Super Bowl Parties as Seahawks fans, or as fans of sports in general. But seeing as this is a website about the Seattle Mariners, and many local sports fans have given up on the Seattle Mariners, that very question might be something popping up in living rooms across the great Pacific Northwest, yours included. What are you going to say? How will you defend yourself? How will you defend Jack Z and Lloyd McClendon and Justin Smoak? A guide:
1. Bring up the Robinson Cano thing
Holy shit, you guys. Robinson Cano. He hasn't played a single game in a Mariners' uniform, and the buzz of his signing has faded a bit since first hearing about it. But next year we get to watch one of the biggest stars of the game play baseball in Seattle for more than four days. Just think about that for a minute! Robinson Cano! Mariner!
He was at the Grammys! He's in a fucking Jay Z song! They made POSTSEASON commercials about him on MLB Network! ESPN actually gives more than five seconds to him on a regular basis, and do things like this:
Whatever, they may say. He's on the wrong side of thirty, you will hear. This could be true, but I want to watch Robinson Cano play baseball and that is going to be kind of awesome. Right? No? This argument isn't really working. They will bring up homegrown superstars like Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, acquired late in drafts. Building the right way. They will bring up the role of the team, synergy, and success on the field reflected in the W column. Alright then, your next step should be to bring up the idea that
2. The Mariners are projected to win more games than in previous years.
Ha! Now you've got numbers to back you up, as well as a narrative to support based off the result of a decade of crappy baseball in the Emerald City. Dan Szymborski has estimated the Mariners to be somewhere around 77 wins in 2014, which is a lot of wins if you think about it. 77! I can't think of something cool I've done 77 times in one year, other than the number of beers I've consumed and episodes of Parks and Rec I streamed on Netflix, neither of which are achievements worthy of a diamond-encased ring.
Not only is 77 a big number, bigger than the amount of wins the Mariners had last year (just don't bring that number up), it's also a whole hell of a lot more wins than the Seattle Seahawks had this year. 13 wins? That's 13 days of feeling good at night, celebrating victory with friends and replays the next morning on ESPN. Tell them they can feel that same amount of joy seventy-seven times if they watch the Mariners this year. That's a big number. That's a lot of joy.
Now, you might run into a bit of trouble here. This line of reasoning could pass on someone who has absolutely no idea how baseball works, but pretty much everyone knows that baseball has like a billion games each year, and that a team that wins 77 games still lost more games than they won. Crap. This isn't going well. At this point, your best bet is to
3. Appeal to luck
You don't need to bring up the 2012 Athletics or the Miracle Mets, or even 1995. One of the reasons we all continue to watch sports when advanced statistics and projection systems determine the outcome of games before they are played is that sometimes crazy shit just happens. Yeah, the Mariners are bad, on paper. Yeah, the Mariners are projected to lose more games than they win, on paper. But games aren't played on paper and you never know what's going to happen and oh Corey Hart might be good and Taijuan Walker is exciting and is probably going to win the Cy Young so the Mariners might make the World Series!
You don't even have to resort to hyperbole to tell them that boy, they will feel dumb if the Mariners do end up making the playoffs after being written off by the city. If Safeco is at max capacity in October and some little story about Kyle Seager from June is popping back up in conversations between fans in the cold coastal air, they are gonna feel pretty stupid when you have to explain it to them.
At this point, you've probably had a few too many beers, its in the third quarter, and your emotion is carrying your argument more than logic. Which is fine, because if you've gotten to the point where you are appealing to luck, you might as well stop and just watch the football game. But as the sudsy courage takes hold of your brain, you may start to veer into a sadder state of being, which will start to drag the party down with you. This the dark turn, where you
4. Tell them that dammit, you love baseball, and it's a beautiful thing, and there is only one team in town that you are forced to follow and why be disloyal for something you love, man? You are a Mariners fan, but you're really a baseball fan.
Alright, this is getting out of hand. I think many of us have made this argument at one point or another, but it was mostly made within our own heads, in order to convince ourselves we aren't crazy for still watching this godforsaken team.
If you've gotten to this step, please, just stop talking and watch the football men do amazing football things, because you are pissing everyone off. In addition, they are definitely not following you down the rabbit hole of Mariners fandom if you, as representative of the game of baseball, are a slurry mess of emotion exposing your own doubts about the team through abstract declarations of grandeur.
You might start realizing this and put on the brakes. Don't want to piss everybody off, risk not being invited next year, you think. But it gets worse when you
5. Smugly tell everyone that Russell Wilson used to be a minor league baseball player and some people on tv said he's creative and successful because he learned to throw as a shortstop and stuff
All you football fans abandoned this argument long ago, but to us only aware of the game's periphery, the above nugget is equivalent to a graduate seminar in What To Say When You Talk About Football. Not only does it enlighten an aspect of the game in terms we can understand, it sounds like analysis that digs deeper than what the average football fan knows.
But literally everyone sitting on the couch in Seahawks jerseys already knows this, and they've heard it a thousand times. You aren't enlightening them any bit. Hopefully by now you've put an end to this madness. Hopefully, you did a long time ago. But as good as it might feel to think about, don't mention
6. How incredible it would be to see the city of Seattle cheering this hard for the Mariners next fall, as a city united in fandom and energy, as a unified whole
Because if you're talking about this while the Seahawks are winning in the fourth quarter, you're probably drunk. Also, holy shit, the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, and that's fucking awesome. Stop talking about baseball!
By its design, baseball makes well-meaning narcissists out of fans watching 162 three-hour games each year. Let's leave the remaining 203 days for everyone else to have their day. Especially if today is their biggest day.
So the Seahawks might bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Seattle for the first time ever, and we Mariners fans should be excited about it. Not only is it good for Seattle, it's good for the Northwest, and it's good for the game of baseball. I wish the Mariners could be this good at their sport, but I also guess it doesn't really matter, because it's just a silly game. They will be there someday. But meanwhile, you're going to go to a Super Bowl Party and exercise your duty as an American to take part in one of the country's biggest cultural events, and that's kind of the whole point.
So as someone who doesn't really understand football, and will be watching the game as a tourist, I can honestly say it's going to be damn great to see the Seahawks get a bunch of rings. Besides, I'll take a break from thinking about Hector Noesi any chance I can get.